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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Workplace Going Up in Smoke?: Climb Out on the Stress Doc’s Burnout “Ladder”

This woman works fast!  Yesterday I received the following email:

I'm an editor at Ladders, a website focused on careers and life in the workplace. I'm hoping you might write a brief essay for us or speak to me for a short interview on burnout and how to get over it, in response to this:

https://qz.com/932813/employee-burnout-is-becoming-a-huge-problem-in-the-american-workforce/

Might you have a few minutes in the next few days to speak by phone or write 400-700 words? I'd love to make something work!

More about Ladders: We have more than 2 million monthly visitors and an email newsletter that reaches more than 8 million. We'd link back to your site and share widely across our social networks.

Thanks so much for the time and consideration,

Kirsten

Senior Editor, Ladders

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, by 3:30 that afternoon we began a stimulating half-hour question/discussion exchange. And by this morning, her work/our collaboration was online. Kirsten recorded the conversation and deftly captured the essentials. Trust me, she did a wonderful job sorting out my psychobabble!

I’ve been dealing with burnout since the 1980s – mine and many others. And in 2000, this burnout engine was in full steam mode, at least in the tech world of Northern Virginia…when the industry had its meltdown. Again, it’s in hyperphase and companies are ignoring the "erosive spiral" warning signs…to the peril of both employees and companies.

I’m glad to have contributed to this not just timely but, also, critical piece.

Mark Gorkin

stressdoc@aol.com

www.stressdoc.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ladders Link

https://www.theladders.com/p/17413/overcome-burnout

I overcame burnout. Here’s how you can too.’

Kirsten Salyer

By Kirsten Salyer, Senior Editor at Ladders

Mar 21, 2017



Have you ever felt overworked, stressed, or just plain burned out at work?

You’re not alone.

As productivity has risen and technology has expanded the workweek, wages have failed to catch up. More than half of U.S. workers left vacation time unused in 2015, and surveys have shown that about two-thirds of U.S. workers eat lunch at their desks.

If more employees burn out, it could pose problems for individuals and organizations. As Quartz reported, a recent study found that burnout is responsible for up to half of workplace attrition. Think about that: one of every two workers leaves his job because he just can’t take the stress any more.

Mark Gorkin, who coaches people on how to overcome stress and is the author of Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World, spoke to Ladders about his own experience with burnout and his suggestions for how companies and employees can address it in the workplace.

Ladders: What is burnout?

Gorkin: Burnout is the gradual process by which a person detaches from work and other significant roles and relationships in response to excessive and prolonged stress and mental and physical strain. It results in low productivity, cynicism, confusion, and a feeling of being drained and having nothing more to give.

Have you ever experienced burnout?

My first real experience was as a doctoral student. I was trying to do something creative but off the academic wall. At that time in my life, I was immature, and I wasn’t going to let anyone stifle my creativity. But I was being unrealistic, and I eventually burned out.

What I learned is that there are different stages of burnout: physical and mental exhaustion, shame and doubt, cynicism and callousness, and finally failure, helplessness, and crisis.

I went through all of them, and I dropped out of the program.

Why is burnout a problem in the workplace?

Where do you spend most of your time? Most people spend more hours at work than anywhere else.

We live in a driven and distracted world, and management is not taking enough time to really recognize the impact.

One of the consequences is that people feel like they’re being used up. We’re constantly doing more with less.

There are also some people who feel like they’re doing the same thing over and over. They feel like they’re being underutilized and that their talents are not being given a chance.

Burnout can be just the tip of the iceberg. If it goes on, it can cause people to call in sick more, feel distressed, become more passive aggressive, or engage in workplace sabotage.

What can organizations do to prevent burnout?

Good organizations allow people to have a sense of authority, autonomy, and accountability.

The problem occurs when employees have a lot of accountability, but they feel that there isn’t much authority or autonomy. When people feel that they’re in control, they are more stress-resilient.

Organizations should encourage breaks and give their employees a chance to sit down and talk about burnout. They should ask: “Where are people feeling overloaded? How can we give you some support?”

The important thing is to address it not as an individual issue but as a structural issue.

What can individuals do to beat burnout?

Here are some steps I learned in my own personal recovery.

1. Exercise

When I started feeling better, I started an exercise regime. Not only is exercise good for you, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment and control. When you’re feeling burned out, you need to create some rituals that give you a feeling of accomplishment and competence.

2. Laugh

When you’re experiencing burnout, after a while, your funny bone starts to atrophy. I read books, like The Catcher in the Rye, that made me laugh. Watch Friends. Watch Seinfeld. Do something that helps you see the absurdity of life. Laughing helps you feel that you’re not trapped in a black cloud.

3. Reflect

I took a personal retreat and took time to reflect on how I got myself in the burnout predicament. You might feel like you’re in a great position and can’t give it up, but rigid expectations are a formula for burnout.

4. Write

What was really helpful for me was that I started writing. Research shows that when you’re able to write things out, it can be stress-reducing.

5. Reach out

Find a stress buddy. It’s easy to get caught up in the whole process. Find someone at work who will give you honest feedback.

Once you’ve done these things, you’ll be ready to take more risks — whether that means speaking up in your workplace or saying that it’s time to move on.

~~~~~~~~~


Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and "Psychohumorist" ™, is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative. Current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters. A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army. Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services. The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High Tech World. Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" – www.stressdoc.com – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR). For more info, email: stressdoc@aol.com.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Path of Mastery: Don’t Overlook the Forest-Trees Connection

The Stress Doc critiques two recent speaking performances.  And while he did justice to the individual pieces, did he really see or connect the big picture?

The Path of Mastery:  Don’t Overlook the Forest-Trees Connection

Once again, I’m reminded that it is “The Path of Mastery” …there’s no final destination, at least when it comes to strategic understanding and skill development. 

I led two programs this week, “Finding Your Voice at Any Age,” as a guest presenter for a UU Congregation, and garnered the nickname, Sermonator.  The other, “Leading with Passion Power:  Inspiring with Courage, Clarity & Creativity,” at the Virginia Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) State Conference.  And while both programs basically went well, and some might think me overcritical, there was a pattern in my presentations that needs to be examined and modified.

Seeing the Leadership Forest for the Trees

It might stem from my being an inclusive thinker, a “forest” person.  My drive is to illustrate diverse components, e.g, in my SHRM program, personal energy and passion, loss and “letting go,” disarming power struggles, creative risk-taking, mind-mood motivation and communication, etc., that contribute to the compelling-captivating leadership dynamic.  (We were not able to engage the last section.  However, preparing for more material than I use is not simply, or mostly, an obsessive tendency.  I want the freedom to improvise or spontaneously include concepts or exercises that are the best fit for the learning/relationship building moment.)

And while differentiating each part – power struggles, risk-taking, i.e., “the trees” – through conceptual bullet points and a small group exercise (not necessarily in that order), I have overlooked an important step.  In my mind, having previously worked with the components, I perceive the intrinsic, holistic interrelationship – the trees-forest gestalt.  But I have not asked the participants whether and how they perceive the relationship between each concept-tool-technique segment and the overarching topic of “passion power” leadership.

Perhaps I’m also caught up in that eternal rushing stream.  Being conscious of time constraints (as a Mega Speaker I had two hours), once finishing a particular conceptual segment, I’m moving on to the next tree.  If not careful, my inclusive thinker bias can lead to overload.  Realistically, I may need to display a tree sample rather than all the forest trees. 

Song and Voice Connection

The UU program was an opportunity for me to illustrate a number of different scenarios for discovering and cultivating a voice:
1) playing with kids or recalling childhood pain and conflict,
2) communing with nature, and
3) being conceptually challenged – by a colleague to expand both my range and focus or by my own churning-on-a-creative-problem mind…leading to an “Aha!’ moment:  when a vision leads to a voice!

In the presentation, one personal learning curve segment stands out.  I showed an anti-bullying power point slide song.  It’s to the tune of the children’s camp favorite, B-I-N-G-O.  (“There was a farmer who had a dog, and BINGO was his name, oh.”  I turned B-I-N-G-O into…

In my school there is a kid      
And Bully Boy’s his name, oh
Blaming me for what he did
And tries to make me cry, oh…

B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y…
And Bully Boy’s his name, sigh.

(Email stressdoc@aol.com for more info on how the song can be used as an educational/discussion tool.)

I was pleasantly surprised.  The wide-ranging in age adult members were really into singing the chorus.)

Anyway, after the program over lunch, a friend and I did a debrief.  She thought the pieces all fit my “Finding Your Voice” theme except, perhaps, the “BULLY Boy/Girl” Slide Song.  When I said, the song speaks of the child turning to a trusted adult which, in turn, helps him stand up to the bully…the voice connection was clear.  However, she insisted, I needed to underline for the audience the moral of finding your “standing up to the bully” voice.

And she was right.  Either I need to make the point or, even better, take the time and have the audience make the connection between “the trees” – anti-bullying song – and “the forest” – “Finding Your Voice” sermon theme.

Closing Summary

So, my learning takeaways:

1.  Be flexibly realistic about the optimal number of program trees and your allotted time
2.  Don’t quickly move on to the next foundational piece after illustrating through concept summary and group exercise a particular tree
3.  Recognize that grasping a tree does not mean having a handle on the forest context
4.  Make sure you check in with your audience after each tree illustration, ideally providing them an opportunity to make their own forest-tree connection.

Amen and women, to that!


Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and "Psychohumorist" ™, is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative.  Current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters.  A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army.  Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services.  The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High Tech World.  Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite"www.stressdoc.com – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR).  For more info, email:  stressdoc@aol.com.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Discovering and Declaring Your Genuine Voice: Lessons for Any Age or Stage – Part II

Beginning to prepare for my Sunday, March, 12 guest sermon debut for the Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalists.  The invitation itself has added to my conception-label of role and voice with the help of my “sister.” Miss Eva added to the litany of nicknames over the years bestowed and self-generated:  Stress Doc ™, Motivational Psychohumorist ™, Shrink Rapper ™, and the latest – “The Sermonator” ™.  (The UU gathering is north of Baltimore; 2912 Club House Road, Finksburg, MD 21048.  Services are from 10:30-12:30pm; http://cedarhurstuu.org/home/;  Contact:  info@cedarhurstuu.org.)  The sermon theme:  “Finding Your Voice at Any Age.”  So, it’s a good time to complete Part II of “Discovering and Declaring Your Genuine Voice.”  The opening segment (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/discovering-declaring-your-genuine-voice-lessons-any-age-mark-gorkin) explored the meaning of “discovering and declaring your voice” and also outlined the first five Finding Your Voice Lessons:
1.  Confront Your Intimate FOE
2.  Play with a Child
3.  Try Poetry and Pictures
4.  Be Out-Rage-ous
5.  Recognize It’s a Digital World.

Time to ring out 6-10.  P.S.  Would love to meet you on the 12th.

The Stress Doc’s Finding Your Voice Lessons – Skills and Strategies:

6.  Quietly Listen and Blend the Unconscious and the Conscious.   Discovering your voice begins in the quiet recesses of your unconscious cave-mind.  First you listen for the subterranean ebb and flow:  the confluence of subconscious images and intuitions, shadowy ideas and insights streaming randomly and/or rhythmically from the psyche, heart, and gut.  Then, after a while, your conscious mind comes into play, akin to slowly awakening from a dream state.  Now you ponder or, as likely, mentally meander through the compelling imagery that survives the unconscious to conscious transition.  Turning over the mind-body fragments, feeling some tension as you look for Lego-like connections among the discrete, kaleidoscopic bits of data, until the psychic path fades out or…Aha!

7.  Envision a “Cutting Edge” Voice.  Building on #6, let me illuminate that unconscious-conscious-creative path by drawing on parts of the “Introduction” from my recent e-book, Preserving Human Touch in a High-Tech World.  In the early ‘90s, living in DC, I was invited on a radio show hosted by an African-American woman to talk about stress.  We hit it off; upon discovering she had some connections to the music industry, I sent her a bluesy/rap-like verse penned a few years earlier, while living in N’Awlins.  Here’s the opening:

The Burnout Boogie

Well I got the burnout boogie
My mind just wants the snooze
Well I got the burnout boogie
Guess it's time to sing the blues.

(Chorus)   'Cause I'm all burnt out
                 And I'm full of self-doubt
                 All I want to do is shout
                 And baby, just get the hell out.

Now the boss says, Do this project!"
And you know I'd like to please
But I'm feeling like a reject
And I'm down upon my knees.

Well I got the burnout boogie
So I guess I must refuse
Well I got the burnout boogie
Man, I need to take a cruise.

(Chorus)

Rap was starting to catch on big-time.  In addition, she was also promoting a beauty contest, and I volunteered to write a thematic anthem – “The Electrifying Lady.”  It wasn’t selected, but got serious consideration.  (They were confused by my line, “She's a sister and a brother.”  Guess when it comes to male/female psychological ambidexterity and/or gender possibilities I was just ahead of the times.)  Here’s the opening stanzas and chorus:

The Electrifying Lady

The Electrifying Lady
The hottest in the land
Her look will drive you crazy
Her mind is in command.

The lady's smart and sassy
So don't tell her where to go.
She's not your little lassie
This Black Goddess stops the show.

     'Cause Electrifying Lady is shock energy
     For a mind and body surging to be free.
     Now Lady Electric just don't know her place
     That Ms. E. L. is hyperspace.

©  Mark Gorkin   1992
"Shrink Rap" Productions
[Email stressdoc@aol.com for the entire lyric.]
~~~~~~~~~~

In the meantime, a month or so passed without a word about my “Boogie.”  So, I called the radio host.  She had sent it to a rap group in LA who liked it…but then the LA Riots broke out.  She hadn’t heard anything.  I guess it became “The Burnt-Up Boogie!”

From Twilight “Aha!” to Out of the Rapper Closet

To put some closure on this meandering tale…one morning in bed, in a dream-like state – neither sleeping nor awake – I start musing:  “Mark, you’re a therapist, you’ve been a university professor…what are you doing trying to write rap lyrics?”  And then, percolating up from dawns early depths, pushed to consciousness by identity conflict…a flash out of the contradictory haze:  “Of course, you’re into Shrink Rap.”  And eventually, a paradoxical insight:  A new voice may emerge from a novel vision of self!

And with the early ‘90s concept, a number of works quickly followed, with a Shrink Rapper twist.  After hearing the original “Stress Doc’s Stress Rap” ™, an African-American lawyer-friend noted:  “Oh, so you’re into ‘Aristocratic Rap.’”

Finally, talking of finding a new voice, it took some “trial and terror” to basically lose all inhibition and sense of proportion.  With an evolving entertainer’s mindset, I added a Blues Brothers hat, black sunglasses, and a black tambourine.  Now I started performing my homegrown rap during “Practice Safe Stress” speaking programs and workshops.  To this day, with a tad more method than madness, I don my ensemble, one by one, while slyly acknowledging a secret identity.  (Naturally, I share the suspicion that the audience might prefer my keeping this secret in the closet.)  Alas, too late…”The hat’s out of the bag.  I'm pioneering the field of psychologically humorous rap music and as a therapist calling it, of course, 'Shrink Rap' ™ Productions."  Predictably, there's an audible groan from the audience.  And my response:  "Groan now.  We'll see who has the last groan." And then, “The Stress Doc’s Stress Rap”:

When it comes to feelings do you stuff them inside?
Is tough John Wayne your emotional guide…
To…
Now I made you feel guilty, you want to confess
Better you should practice “The Art of Safe Stress!”

In truth, initially, mouths are agape.  Midstream, people are laughing knowingly, spontaneously providing rhythmic backup and, by the end, hands are engaged in energetic applause.  Of course, as the clapping subsides, I get in the last word, declaring:  “I’ve been doing this long enough…I know when an audience is applauding out of relief!”

A Closing Musing:  A twilight vision crystallized the edgy Shrink Rap concept, placing me on an ever-
evolving, “Four ‘C’-ing Psychohumorist Path-Voice”:  Seeking to be Creative-Courageous-Comedic-Compassionate!

8.  Reflect on Nature.   The recesses of the mind and being somewhat “out of your mind” help cultivate a newfound voice.  However, so too when outside the mind’s normal chattering state, that is, when meditatively and then poetically absorbed in the wonders of nature.  Consider this passage from my essay, “Gospel of a Country Road,” based on a mid-October, overnight retreat to a remote mountain village in Helvetia (“Little Switzerland”), West Virginia:

And speaking of the brain and the senses, for me, the color of the leaves also evokes an overpowering chemical reaction. When bathed in sunlight, the shimmering waves of lemons and apricots and orange-cranberry hues overwhelm the logical left-hemisphere. All I can do is gaze and sometimes gasp. And from a distance write:

The forest as the artist/Trees willowy and bold
The brushstrokes of the branches/Leaves afire red and gold.
And then God-like fingers/Stream down from above
Solar rays caress you both/A touch of nature's love.


[From my "Mountain Vision" lyric.]

While not brilliantly breathtaking, the colors have a more subtle, a more mature beauty this year. (Maybe it's a projection of a fifty-year-old psyche ;-)

And when the color disappears and night descends, then the other big picture show takes center stage. Walking in the cool, clean, crisp mountain air, down another country road, beyond the last remnants of man-made lighting, reveals the truly majestic and miraculous mystery. As wonderful as cyberspace is, it can't compete with the real thing.

9.  Allow Yourself to Be Challenged.  Accepting an unexpected assignment or the challenge around a performance task, or emotionally stretching outside one’s relationship comfort zone, can be the impetus for a new or expanded voice.  For example, recently, a friend strongly suggested that I transform my anti-bullying Power Point Slide Children’s Song (to the tune of the camp favorite, "B-I-N-G-O") into a lyric for adults.  Actually, many adults, upon hearing or hearing about my child’s' version say, in essence, bullying is not just for kids...It's rampant in the workplace!

My initial “adult version” angst was brought on by self-comparison:  would I be able to generate a worthy companion piece to my child’s lyric?  Eventually, I followed my own risk-taking advice:  Aware-ily Jump In Over Your Head! and “Strive to Survive the High Dive.  Would love to hear your thoughts on my meeting the challenge.  If inclined, feel free to share...maybe slip it under someone's door! ;-)  P.S. If you'd like to see the original Bully Boy/Girl Slide Song, just e-holler.

BULLY Guy/Gal:  A Workplace Variation

[In this version, the four (or five lines) of each stanza are sung with the same melody as in the original.  The same rules apply to the B-U-L-L-Y chorus as in the B-I-N-G-O chorus.]
~~~~~~~~~~~~

At my work, there’s a “big” dude
And Bully Guy’s his name, oh
Blaming me for what he did
Pumps his inflated ego.

B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y…
And Bully Guy’s his name, sigh.

Stalking me all down the hall
Controlling is his game, oh
When did “scarcasm” get so cool?
Isn’t this against the rules?
Not when the boss’ bud, oh.

Why does he just pick on me?
The Guy should be ashamed, oh
Is he green with jealousy?
Or just a red bull guy, oh…

B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y…
And Bully Guy’s his name, sigh.

Meetings are ruled by his “facts”
There is no room for doubt, oh
Speaking up gets you the axe
Or, he will just storm out, oh.

Just because he makes it rain
All look the other way, oh
While morale goes down the drain
Does money make a hero?

B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y…
And Bully Guy’s his name, sigh.

I must learn to take a stand
And overcome self-blame, oh
Not just bow to his demands
Nor play the helpless zero.

I will find one trustworthy
To talk out all my pain, oh
Then stand tall as an oak tree
Or walk away, nothing to say
But with my head held high, oh…

B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y…
And Bully Guy’s his name, sigh.

Now I see…the real tragedy
Leaders’ heads in the sand, oh
A virus kills a company
When no one takes command, oh…

B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y… B-U-L-L-Y…
I’ve overcome self-doubt, oh
B-R-A-V-O… B-R-A-V-O… B-R-A-V-O…
I will give a shout, oh
No longer just an also ran
I now am my own wo/man
Cause I got the way hell out, Oh, Yeah!


© Mark Gorkin  2017
Shrink Rap ™ Productions

10. Perceive, Play, Practice, Pilot, and Project.  You might call these “The Five Voice-Performance ‘P’s”:
1) Perceive and be curious about your inner voice and vision
2) Play with it; try out different sounds, shades, and dimensions
3) Practice with purpose:  what will be your agenda, structure, and key objectives
4) Pilot in front of an audience (or two or three)
5) Project your new voice…perceive the feedback…Then repeat the five-voice cycle!

You can find and evolve a voice for just about any age and stage.  Consider these inspiring words of acclaimed medical pioneer, Dr. Jonas Salk:  Evolution is about getting up one more time than you fall down; about being courageous one more time than you are fearful; and about being trusting just one more time than you are anxious.  All I can add is, Amen and women, to that!

Closing:  The Stress Doc’s Finding Your Voice Lessons – Skills and Strategies 1-10:

1.  Confront Your Intimate FOE
2.  Play with a Child
3.  Try Poetry and Pictures
4.  Be Out-Rage-ous
5.  Recognize It’s a Digital World.
6.  Quietly Listen and Blend the Unconscious and the Conscious
7.  Envision a “Cutting Edge” Voice
8.  Reflect on Nature
9.  Allow Yourself to Be Challenged
10. Perceive, Play, Practice, Pilot, and Project



Mark Gorkin, MSW, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a nationally acclaimed speaker, writer, and "Psychohumorist" ™, is a founding partner and Stress Resilience and Trauma Debriefing Consultant for the Nepali Diaspora Behavioral Health & Wellness Initiative.  Current Leadership Coach/Training Consultant for the international Embry-Riddle Aeronautics University at the Daytona, FL headquarters.  A former Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service, he has led numerous Pre-Deployment Stress Resilience-Humor-Team Building Retreats for the US Army.  Presently Mark does Critical Incident Debriefing for organizational/corporate clients of Business Health Services.  The Doc is the author of Practice Safe Stress, The Four Faces of Anger, and Preserving Human Touch in a High Tech World.  Mark’s award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite"www.stressdoc.com – was called a "workplace resource" by National Public Radio (NPR).  For more info, email:  stressdoc@aol.com.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Some En-Light-enment for a Dark Age: Two Psycho-Political Parodies

Two psycho-political parodies from The Stress Doc.  Enjoy!

Some En-Light-enment for a Dark Age:  Two Psycho-Political Parodies

At a meeting with Nepali allied health colleagues, all who are American citizens, the impact of this new administration’s pointed messaging was palpable:  Is America still a safe place for who folks who don’t look like the traditional “majority?”  From a female colleague with brown skin and dark hair recently attracting intense disapproving stares in a restaurant (i.e., people assuming she is “Muslim”) and aggressive “go back home” texts/taunts on social media, to people who have no legal-rational reason, feeling wary about walking in public, many of all walks are starting to feel like endangered “strangers in a strange (more repressive) land.”  In addition to attending rallies and making donations, my push-back method is through words.  The first lyric written this week; the second written the night of the Nov. election.  Hopefully, the democratic pen will prevail over the autocratic sword!  The New “R & R”:  Resistance and the Ridiculous!  MG
~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Fairy-Tail Emperor

When it comes to "media facts"
The Donald does not suppose
Nor bothers with smoking gun tracks...
Simply follows his swelling nose
To the bare bottom of "nasty" attacks
From those "fake-sore loser" foes.

Oh Trumpty Dumpty
Do you know what you know?
Oh Humpty Trumpty
How your little nose grows!
Oh Dumpty Trumpty
You'll stretch the truth
As far as it goes…
What will your gang do
To we who oppose?

Staring down protest in the streets
Alone high atop Mount Ego
Zeus-man keeps hurling tweets
Of all that he knows
It's how "The Man" blows
Up his Olympian PRIDE
He's "not a crook," has nothing to hide

For there is truth in his prose:
One more "Master of the Universe”
Alas, without any clothes!

Oh Trumpty Dumpty
Do you know what you know?
Oh Humpty Trumpty
How your little horn blows!
Oh Dumpty Trumpty
Here's a Russian Red Rose
To help you cover up
That butt naked pose!
Here's a Russian Red Rose
To help you cover up
That butt naked pose!


© Mark Gorkin  2017
Shrink Rap ™ Productions


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



11/9:  Have We Seen this Before?
(Or, The Night of Broken Dreams)

Reading about the post-election wailing and grief or the counter-reaction of "stop the whining," helped me realize the personal value of my coping option: turning a political lemon into poetic lemonade. Enjoy...or not!

My biggest fear in this election campaign was that Donald Trump was providing a platform for social-cultural hatred, a hatred by a variety of supporters, surrogates, and sycophants.  Such flame-throwing typically targets groups based on race, ethnicity, nationality, geography, gender, sexual identity, and/or religion.  I don’t believe Mr. Trump is a fanatical hater, more a conditional one:  a) when someone rubs his ego the wrong way (alas, this happens too easily), b) when women complain Mr. T has “rubbed them the wrong way” (alas, this happens too frequently), and c) when he strategically or spontaneously bullies or demonizes “the other” to gain supporters and votes and win a “negotiation” or political battle.  I hope my fears are mostly baseless.  I pray (despite being a Jewish atheist) that the new President will resist the urge to Trumpism, to become a dictatorial, Putin-like “strong man” repressing dissenting voices and constitutional rights.  I will congratulate Mr. Trump hardily if he genuinely helps rebuild our infrastructure and the economic options and standing of working-class families.  In truth, many of his other avowed premises and promises frighten me – personally, for our democratic ethos, and for our fragile planet.  So, I will be vigilant.  To loosely quote Ronald Reagan:  warily trust and verify.  Until then…I versify!


11/9:  Have We Seen this Before?
(Or, The Night of Broken Dreams)

Please do not think me dumb
Or even merely craven, yet
Will 11/9 become
Our homegrown 9/11?

Ah, the ironic paradox
The choice of free election.
Have we unleashed Pandora’s Box:
A swarm of white-male venom?

Oh tell me Mr. Trumpty
How do you run on empty?
Oh tell me Humpty Trumpty
How many have you dumptied?

Forgive my taste in history
To look back does no good
Still…a little pre-war Germany
And streets running with blood?

Why am I compelled to rant?
Perhaps a mere sore loser.
Though not a recent immigrant
(More “word artist” itinerant)
For you…does my life matter?

Oh tell me Mr. Trumpty
Why are you so grumpty?
Oh tell me Trumpty Dumpty
How many have you humptied?

“Why are you so paranoid?”
“He will drain the swamp!”
I gaze into the krystal ** void:
One big internment camp!

I do not fear the Mighty Wall
For I will not be barred
But one and all, from grace may fall
When “vermin” are gold-starred. ***


** The choice of the “kystal” spelling is a blend of “crystal” and “Kristallnacht” also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass.   “Kristallnacht was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and German civilians. German authorities looked on without intervening. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues had their windows smashed.

Estimates of the number of fatalities caused by the pogrom have varied. Early reporting estimated that 91 Jewish people were murdered during the attacks. Modern analysis of German scholarly sources by historians such as Richard J. Evans puts the number much higher. When deaths from post-arrest maltreatment and subsequent suicides are included, the death toll climbs into the hundreds. Additionally, 30,000 were arrested and incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.” (Wikipedia)

*** During the Nazi reign, Jews in Germany (and elsewhere, I believe), were mandated to have gold Jewish Stars sewn on their outer garments, to single out and stigmatize them when in public, increasing their chance for ridicule and much worse intimidation.


© Mark Gorkin  2016

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